A closer look at Mockingbird Lane

Posted by CB Droege

The parts have been cast, the pilot has been writen and production is about to begin on Bryan Fuller’s update of The Munsters.

For the uninitiated, the original television show was a 60’s family sitcom which followed the humorous trials of a family of monsters.

Herman, the father, is a reanimated corpse; the mother, Lily, and grandfather, "The Count" are vampires; and their only son, Eddie, is a wolf-boy.

Lily’s niece, Marilyn - a beautiful, curvy blond with no apparent monstrous heritage - also lived with the family, though she was poorly developed and under explained, serving mostly as comic relief (the family saw her as hideously deformed).

The Munsters was created in response to the popularity of The Addams Family, but while the Addams’s were aristocratic, eccentric, psychopaths, The Munsters were a working-class family, and their shtick was to parody the popular sitcoms of the time by putting this odd family in similar situations. The episodes usually focused on the family’s inability to fit in, along with their complete lack of understanding about how they might appear strange to other people. 

The new show will be a complete departure from this formula, keeping only the family and its core identities. Even the character’s personalities will be a change-up, as they are now less goofy, and will surely rely less on parodying 50’s sitcoms, since those shows are no longer relevant.

"The Munsters actually do what monsters do. They eat people and they have to live with the ramifications of being monstrous. It's like grounding it in a reality because the half-hour was a sitcom, we saw the monsters: they were monsters on the outside and weren't monsters on the inside. For us, they're monsters outside and inside, and we get to double our story," showrunner Brian Fuller said during an interview with THR.

"So any story you can tell on Parenthood and True Blood, we can tell. To have Eddie Munster be the starting point for the family - because in the past, when Eddie was born human, they stopped living like monsters because they didn't want to damage Eddie. You get to this interesting thing with Lily, who's been hiding who she is for the last 11 years and now has to accept who she is after she's denied it for so long. It's those types of emotional stories - yet they're going out and eating people at the same time."

Fuller also discusses the creative path that the show has followed since its inception. Originally it was going to be a braided tale, with distinct plots for each monster in the show (and not just the Munsters themselves, the show will include lots of other monsters from the Universal IP library), then it was redirected to Marilyn, the point-of-view character of the original series before Herman became the real protagonist.

"It's an ensemble, but the emotional point of view is from Herman because it really is about a father who is realizing his child is taking after the other side of the family," Fuller said. "He has so few things in his life that are his, and his son Eddie was one of them - and now Eddie's more like Grandpa than he is Herman. Everything is a metaphor for something that you can identify with in a relationship; the fact that Herman is in a constant state of decay, and he's married to someone who doesn't age. We get to play with all those insecurities. The fact that he was made by his father-in-law and then has to live up to those standards; he's always trying to find his own identity."

Fuller also commented on the difficulty of distinguishing this new project from his past projects, even saying that Mockingbird Lane will be just as "vibrant" as Pushing Daisies, which sounds like a very interesting mix, considering how dark the plot is, even compared to that morbid enterprise.

Check out the full interview over on THR to see the rest of what Fuller has to say about his new project, including a comparison to ABC’s Once Upon a Time.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to this new show. Fuller’s previous projects have been some of my favorite shows in the past, and are frequently well received, though do not hold up in the rating’s department.

Perhaps working with such classic properties as The Munsters and this whole stable of Universal monsters will bring in more viewers, and break Fuller’s streak of great shows that perform poorly.

For NBC’s part, they seem to be happy with what is being talked about because they just ordered more episodes, when the pilot is not yet finished. A full season order might not be far off.

Some teaser footage was shown at Comic-con this year, but it has not been made available online yet.

Mockingbird Lane will premier Summer 2013 on NBC.